With her sociopolitical website, Arianna Huffington wants to give voice to the face in the crowd. “There’s a kind of wisdom of the crowd that really is one of the great contributions online journalism can make,” she says.
An elegant, well-heeled woman of seemingly boundless energy, Huffington hasn’t been easy to pigeonhole: a conservative Republican-turned-compassionate independent; author of 11 books; NPR radio personality on “Left, Right & Center”; former California gubernatorial candidate; frequent TV commentator; and now the driving force behind one of the leading online forums for political views and debate.
Her Huffington Post is a juicy compendium of breaking news, blogs and commentary from journalists, scientists, academics, politicos and showbiz types. In fact, there’s such a conspicuous Hollywood presence that it would be easy to lump it in with what the right might call the Liberal Entertainment Complex.
“Not at all,” Huffington protests, “because we have over 1,000 people who blog, and sure, they include people in Hollywood like Ari Emanuel and Larry David, but also (Congressman) Jack Murtha and Bobby Kennedy (Jr.) … so there’s a real community that consists of so many different voices and different professions that it’s hard to typecast us.”
As the 2008 presidential election nears, she says the three most pressing issues for the candidates are “Iraq, Iraq and Iraq.
“It’s almost as if our entire national conversation is really stalled and that’s one of the unintended consequences of the war.”
She says the Republican Party has been all too successful in framing political discourse so that issues such as the number of American and civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan are rarely mentioned in public forums.
“One of the things we try to do at Huffington Post and that I try to do in my writing is to get away from this absolute way of looking at American politics as right vs. left,” she says. “Seventy percent of the American people want the troops home; it’s not a marginal group on the left. So that’s very significant.”
Vocation: Author, journalist, on-air commentator
Recent breakthrough: “The continued growth of Huffington Post.”
Role model: “A mother who stood up to the Nazis during the war and (to) her philandering husband.”
Career mantra: “Not letting my fears stop me from attempting something new or giving up something that doesn’t work.”
What’s next: “More of the same as we continue to make Huffington Post a must-read site for coverage of the 2008 race.”